In a recent study involving about 22,000 people in the U.S., heart transplant patients living in areas of high air emissions had a 26 percent higher risk of mortality due to infection. The research was conducted by lead author Sanjay Rajagopalan, MD, a medicine professor at the Ohio University School of Medicine. Since organ transplantation brings enormous costs to society, they were interested in understanding how previously undiscovered environmental downside adversely affected these patients, said Rajagopalan in a release It was found that long-term air pollution sensitivity tends to raise increased risks for beneficiaries of heart transplants.

The authors reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that there were also bigger populations, higher unemployment rates, more minorities, and more households in ZIP codes with higher concentrations of air pollution. The study found that for each 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in PM2.5 levels, transplant recipients who had long-term exposure to air pollution over several years saw a 26 percent increase in mortality risk from infection.

23.9 percent of patients died in the research despite almost five years of follow-up. Rajagopalan and colleagues said they remained consistent across subgroups with their proven correlation between air pollution and mortality. This study contributes significantly to our comprehension of air pollution’s health effects, an accompanying editorial, C. Arden Pope III, Ph.D., wrote. This offers compelling proof that air pollution toxicity leads greatly to the risk of death in patients with heart transplants.